The Best Eczema Creams and Lotions to Soothe Dry, Itchy Skin, According to Derms

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When you have eczema, it can be difficult to know what cream or lotion to buy in the sea of options on the market that won't exacerbate your symptoms. For that reason, we consulted the experts to find the best eczema treatments that will actually soothe and repair irritated skin. But first, let's delve into what eczema actually is.

Eczema is a skin condition that causes itchy, dry, and inflamed skin. The severity depends on the person, and can manifest as flakes when mild or a rough, cracked texture when severe. The condition can develop on many parts of the body, but is most commonly found on the inside of elbows, back of the knees, hands, and face.

Eczema has various causes, but is typically due to "either a genetic predisposition (it often affects people with asthma and hay fever) and exposure to an allergen, or a reaction to an external allergen," said consulting dermatologist Susan Mayou. "Irritant eczema is due to excess exposure to an irritant, such as soaps." The skin condition is also incredibly common. "Eczema or atopic dermatitis (as it's otherwise known) is very common, affects 20 percent of children and 2 percent of adults worldwide," said consulting dermatologist Catherine Borysiewicz.

When it comes to helping soothe and repair the condition, "the best creams are the ones that lock in the moisture to repair and hydrate the skin," said consulting dermatologist Rishika Sinha. "And you should avoid anything with perfume or a strong fragrance, as this can cause irritation." Additionally, thinner lotions can sometimes cause dryness due to their higher water content. It's for this reason that dermatologists recommend a heavier cream that contains ceramides high up on the ingredient list.

If you visit the GP with eczema concerns, they might prescribe you a steroid cream, and while these are effective, that should only be used during severe flare-ups. "Steroids work by having a suppressant effect on cells of the immune system found in the skin, which stops the itchy sensation and redness from continuing," said Simran Deo, a GP and dermatologist specialist at UK-based online doctor Zava UK. When treating severe eczema, steroid creams should be used alongside moisturizers as they "protect the outermost layer of skin, which is important as a damaged skin barrier can leave deeper layers of the skin more vulnerable to irritants, allergens, and bacteria," Dr. Deo said.

While eczema is a chronic condition, there are certain things you can do to help relieve the symptoms, one of the biggest (and easiest) is incorporating a good moisturizer into your daily routine. And so you don't have to faff around with reading ingredients labels and running from store to store, we asked top dermatologists to share the ones they recommend to their patients. Read on to see which eczema creams — many of which you'll find at your local drugstore — will best help soothe itchy, inflamed, and sore skin, according to dermatologists.

Aveeno Baby Dermexa Goodnight Emollient Balm
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Aveeno Baby Dermexa Goodnight Emollient Balm

Aveeno Baby Dermexa Goodnight Emollient Balm ($10), as it turns out, isn't just for babies. The balm contains ceramides and Aveeno's triple oat complex (which is made up of avenanthramides, oat oil and, colloidal oatmeal).

"This combination of ingredients has been proven to strengthen the skin's natural skin barrier function, lower excessive water loss from the skin, and thus successfully improve dry and irritated skin," said Stefanie Williams, dermatologist and medical director of Eudelo Dermatology, and spokesperson for Aveeno.

As the balm is slightly thicker in consistency to a regular cream, Dr. Williams recommends you use it before you hop into bed since it will last all through the night without repeat application. If you have a baby or child suffering from eczema, she says that it also provides a layer of protection lasting through bedtime, reducing irritation and assisting in restful sleep.

Cetraben Cream
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Cetraben Cream

To soothe any dry, irritated skin patches, dermatologist Juber Hafiji advises applying an emollient cream such as Cetraben Cream ($4) two to three times a day. "You should also maintain regular application even when you don't have a flare-up to help protect the skin and prevent flare-ups," he said.

Dr. Deo also listed Cetraben as a top choice, as it is a "medicated cream, containing a balance of compounds to replace lost skin oils, form a protective barrier on the skin surface, and attract moisture up from the deeper layers of the skin."

Diprobase Cream
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Diprobase Cream

Diprobase Cream ($7) is one of the products Ismat Nasirrudin, a dermatologist at Pulse Light Clinic, suggests patients use, as it is a heavy cream that really helps to heal dryer skins. If you suffer from sore skin due to water exposure, or you have raw skin from severe eczema, this cream can be applied prior to showering to protect and reduce further irritation to the skin.

Oilatum Cream
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Oilatum Cream

Oilatum Cream ($9) contains contains purified petroleum jelly, making it a great option for those with drier skin that gets very easily irritated, according to Dr. Ismat.

Vaseline Intensive Care Body Lotion
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Vaseline Intensive Care Body Lotion

"Vaseline Intensive Care Body Lotion ($9) contains triple purified petrolatum, which forms a breathable seal over the surface of the skin. Its light lotion formula can be easily spread over large body surface areas without leaving skin feeling heavy or greasy," says New York-based dermatologist, Joshua Zeichner. This is a great option if you don't suffer from severe eczema but still want to maintain a good level of hydration and keep dry skin at bay.

Blistex MedPlus Repairing Lip Balm
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Blistex MedPlus Repairing Lip Balm

It's possible to also suffer from eczema on the lips, which can develop for two reasons: "The skin can dry out excessively, or immune cells can cause inflammation resulting in redness and irritation," explained dermatologist Emma Wedgeworth. She recommends applying generous amounts of Blistex MedPlus Repairing Lip Balm ($9) to help to repair the lips and reduce dryness, and especially before bed for so that the cream can work overnight.

Kamedis Eczema Therapy Cream
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Kamedis Eczema Therapy Cream

"Kamedis Eczema Therapy Cream ($21) contains ceramides that fill in cracks and repair the outer skin layer, while hyaluronic acid pulls in hydration to the skin," making it a great option for eczema sufferers, said Dr. Zeichner.